The New Explorer Cabins at Yosemite’s Tenaya Lodge

Delaware North

With fewer crowds and opportunities to ski, snowshoe, ice skate and even hike, winter is a magical time to visit Yosemite. And while there are a handful of hotels within the park, during peak travel times, including February for the annual ‘Fire Fall’ phenomenon, reservations can be tough to come by for anyone who didn’t book in advance. But for a rustic great wilderness-style hideaway – complete with fire pits, fine restaurants and a signature spa – Tenaya Lodge checks all the boxes in Mariposa County.

Get Cozy in an Explorer Cabin

Surrounded by incense cedar and sugar pines, the AAA Four Diamond hotel makes an idyllic base for trips into Yosemite National Park, whose South Gate entrance is just two miles down the road. Launched for the 2019-2020 winter season, the resort’s like-new Explorer Cabins are cozy and a closer to nature alternative than staying at the lovely main lodge. 

Equally suited to couples and friend groups, cabins feature king and queen-sized bedrooms, living rooms with pull-out double sleeper sofas, plus sparkling bathrooms. In addition, the family cabin comes with a convenient bunk room and tub-shower combo, there’s an ADA-compliant version and several are pet-friendly.

Mod cons like Keurig coffee makers (a drawer in the kitchen is packed with pods and creamers) are brilliant for the mornings, while Pendleton blankets, board games, and easy to use gas fireplaces in the living room make for a cozy evening on the couch, too. Relax and birdwatch from the private deck – Deluxe Explorer cabins enjoy views across the adjacent Rainbow Pond and alpine meadow – or gather around one of the nearby fire pits (s’mores kits are provided at check-in) and get to know your neighbors.

Explorer Cabin perks don’t end there. Registered guests can swing by the Explorer Clubhouse for grab-and-go breakfast in the morning or stop by for the evening wine reception. The clubhouse also serves as a handy deli selling snacks and beverages, including wine and beers, plus a range of Yosemite souvenirs, from coffee mugs to cuddly black bears. Surrounded by nature trails, cabins are within walking distance of Tenaya’s main lodge – 15 minutes on foot and two minutes by car or resort shuttle. 

Keri Bridgwater/JustLuxe

Tenaya Lodge

A mainstay among Yosemite’s hospitality offerings since 1990, Tenaya Lodge provides easy access to park attractions as well as somewhere cozy and inviting to come back to at night. The crackling fireplaces and grand reception area offer a warm welcome and a fantastic first impression of this upscale mountain resort on the edge of the Sierra National Forest. 

Alongside its 53 Mountain Cottages 50 new Explorer Cabins the main lodge features 249 guest rooms – with oversized whirlpool tubs and rain showers, the studio-style Spa Suites are popular. But when it comes to getting properly pampered or soothing muscles post-snowshoeing, it’s worth setting aside a couple of hours at Ascent Spa. The 10,000 square-foot Silver LEED-certified space features 12 treatment rooms and services running the gamut from facials and massages to body wraps. However, a eucalyptus steam room and sauna session is equally as relaxing. 

Ice Skating, Fine Dining & More

The property boasts four swimming pools, including an indoor pool where Dive-in movie nights are held during winter and four hot tubs. Ice skating is another fun winter activity here – look for the rink near the main lobby entrance. In addition, there’s a one-hour guided snowshoe hike departing at 10 a.m. (weather depending), but sleds and snowshoes are also available to rent by calling the concierge. Stargazing, mountain biking, and other outdoor adventures, like snowboarding, Nordic skiing and snow tubing at Badger Pass Ski Area inside the park, can also be arranged. 

Over an hour by car from Yosemite Valley floor and a 25-minute drive along Highway 41 from the nearby Sierra foothill town of Oakhurst, dining options at Tenaya are plentiful and range from ‘casual to candlelit.’ For burgers, salads, local beers and wines, head to Jackalope’s Bar & Grill and for Italian favorites make it Timberloft Pizzeria. Guests can also stock up essentials at the Parkside Deli near the lobby. 

What’s New for 2022

Tenaya Lodge has plenty planned for the spring and summer season. Two new buses for Yosemite tours are slated to launch in April with different size options allowing small and large groups to see the park in style. In addition, guided itineraries have been updated to include new routes to stop at landmark features like El Capitan, Yosemite Falls and Tuolumne Meadows. And, after a revamp and relocation closer to guest accommodations, Tenaya’s Gold Rush BBQ is set to reopen this summer. Look forward to open fires and live entertainment alongside “Old West” barbecue classics like smoky tri-tip sandwiches. For more information, visit

All images courtesy of Delaware North unless otherwise noted. 

Source: JustLuxe: LuxuryTravel News

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